The WWE Network launched in the United States on 2/24/2014. For $9.99/month and a six-month subscription, WWE Fans can access the over-the-top service to watch a live streaming channel along with thousands of hours of video-on-demand content. Going forward all 2014 WWE PPVs will be airing live on the WWE Network including the annual juggernaut Wrestlemania. The WWE Network is being supported across a number of devices and apps including many modern gaming console (XBox360 and PS4), streaming devices (Roku and AppleTV), mobile (both iPhones and Android devices) and desktop/laptops/tablet computers. Speculation about the WWE Network has been building for years, and has reached a fevered pitch since the official announcement in Las Vegas less than two months ago. Now that the WWE Network has finally launched, we have the opportunity to examine how it went, and look closely at a few early datapoints that give us a good read on how signups for this important venture are progressing. Q: How did it go on launch day? The simplest word to use is: bumpy. Between 8 AM and 9 AM EST, over twelve thousand customers were able sign up. Then, right at the announced launch hour, the servers crashed. For over four hours, people could not sign up for the network. Things started working again between 1 PM and 2 PM, and there was a flood of catch up subscriptions totaling more than seventy-thousand customers. Things slowed down between 2 PM to 4 PM when the rate of new customers joining steadied to over twenty-thousand customers per hour. Q: What happened? WWE pointed the finger at squarely at their technology partner, Major League Baseball Advanced Media. From articles in the NYPost, Variety and Deadline:
Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), WWEs technology partner, was overwhelmed and their systems have been unable to process most orders since 9 a.m. due to demand for WWE Network, the company said in a statement.MLBAM has been working aggressively to resolve this issue, it added. According to MLBAM, the initial demand at 9 a.m. Eastern exceeded anything the company had seen in its 14-year e-commerce history and overloaded the companys processing system. Reps for WWE and MLBAM said all issues were resolved by mid-afternoon Eastern timeWhen WWE decided to go over-the-top (an online service, similar to Netflix or Hulu), they needed to work with both an experienced streaming and billing company (MLBAM) and a Customer Service firm (Harte Hanks). They also took on a lot of risk because customers werent ordering a basic or premium channel for their traditional cable or satellite system. Instead, most customers needed to sign up directly through WWE.com to obtain access. In this way WWE can retain the majority of the billing fees instead of having to split them with multi-channel video programming distributors. But, as theyve experienced, this also meant they have to handle the infrastructure and customer service concerns. No doubt Harte Hanks is earning their keep trying to pacify frustrated WWE fans throughout this week. Q: How do we know how many people signed up? When customers signed up for either the one-week free trial or the full 6-month subscription commitment, WWE would send them a WWE Network Purchase Confirmation email. This email included a Order Number which appears to have been sequential. By tracking the email timestamps and the order numbers, we were able to track the growth of WWE Network subscriptions and trials. However, shortly after 4 PM EST, it appears that WWE removed these Order Number from the email confirmations. We tracked over 133,500 subscribers between 8 AM and 4 PM.
- We estimate that between 8 AM and 9 AM (before sign-up service was officially online), over 12,000 people signed up for the WWE Network.
- By 2 PM, more than 70,500 people additional people had signed up. Most of these subscriptions were processed between 1 PM and 2 PM, though this likely represented a huge backlog of customers.
- Between 2 PM and 3 PM, about 28,000 new subscribers joined.
- Between 3 PM and 4:15 PM, about 23,000 new subscribers joined.
I'm a professional wrestling analyst, an improviser and an avid NES gamer. I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota and I'm working on my first book (#wrestlenomics). You can contact me at email@example.com or on twitter (@mookieghana)See more from Chris